Humanity has long held a special sense of curiosity as it relates to felines. These sly, mysterious creatures have been deified in some of the world’s most amazing cultures while they are also viewed as being connected with evil according to other civilized societies.
All of these facts prove that humans have always had a unique sense of respect and admiration for cats.
This fascination with cats is evident when we look at various paintings throughout history that feature cats in some form or another.
Many of the world’s most noteworthy artists have been drawn to cats and some famous artists were known to have kept several cats in or around their studios as pets.
Famous Cat Paintings
In this article, we will further explore this fascination that so many artists had when it came to cats and look more closely at how these paintings reflect the artists’ views toward the feline species.
1. The Bachelor Party – Louis Wain
British artist Louis Wain is widely considered to be the most famous painter who often produced works that featured cats.
Unlike other artists who depicted cats in their actual, natural state, Wain chose to paint them in a comical fashion that showed the cats having large eyes and often engaged in human activity.
One of his most well-known paintings is a work that many art historians and critics agree is perhaps one of the most famous cat paintings of all time.
The work is titled The Bachelor Party and was done in 1896 and features a comical scene of a group of cats gathered around a table, enjoying a few drinks and smoking cigars. The cats in the painting are all looking toward one that’s standing in the middle, staring back at the viewer.
Wain was said to have suffered from mental problems such as schizophrenia, but his paintings were lauded as some of the most entertaining for their time.
This work has long been displayed in various settings as a symbol of humor that anyone can enjoy, particularly people who have an affinity toward cats.
2. Julie Manet(Child with Cat) – Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the most highly-regarded artists from the Impressionist period of the mid-19th century.
He was known for painting various scenes from in and around the bustling cities of his home country of France while other artists worked hard to capture landscapes and nature-based scenes. Renoir had a special sense that allowed him to find beauty in just about any setting.
One of his most well-known paintings is known as Julie Manet(Child with Cat). This work is very simple as it is more of a portrait that features the child of his dear friend Edouard Manet holding a cat.
In the painting, we see young Julie posed in a chair, looking back at the viewer while the cat is comfortably snuggled up in her lap.
This painting was done in 1887 after Manet requested that Renoir paint a portrait of his child with her prized kitten. Renoir had a special ability to capture the emotional connection between the subjects in his paintings and this one is no different.
We can clearly see the love that Julie Manet has for her cat.
3. The White Cat – Franz Marc
Franz Marc enjoyed widespread acclaim in his native Germany as one of the most prolific young painters to emerge from the Expressionist movement.
He was well-known for creating works that often featured animals, many of them cats as Marc is said to have kept a few felines as pets in his home or studio.
One of his works is one of the most famous paintings of cats that has been done in recent modern history.
The work is simply titled The White Cat and was completed in 1912 at a time when other artists were also exploring the use of vivid colors and defined outlines.
Marc is known to have painted a number of works that featured domestic cats in their natural state. This one, in particular, is shown snoozing on a pillow, curled up in what seems like complete relaxation.
What grabs the viewer’s attention in this work is the bold colors that seem to somehow complement one another.
4. The Cat and Two Sparrows – Marc Chagall
Abstract art would dominate much of the early-to-mid 20th century as artists continually sought to explore the bounds of artistic expression.
This ambitious mindset seemed to work well for artist Marc Chagall, who found his niche within the era as an abstract painter who often portrayed scenes of the world around him.
Born in Russia, Chagall was known as one of the most famous painters in Russia during his early career and he would later move to France to continue his efforts.
Throughout the decades that followed, he worked to hone in on his own particular style of abstract painting. He would eventually settle in his own distinct style and create such works as The Cat and Two Sparrows.
Completed in 1952, this work had the characteristic blurred lines and warped perspective that so many of his other paintings often featured.
This painting seems to portray a small cat, lying in wait for two innocent sparrows to come within striking distance where he would then pounce.
5. Sara Holding A Cat – Mary Cassatt
Our next work included in this list of the most famous cat paintings is one that is somewhat reminiscent of Renoir’s painting of young Julie Manet.
Mary Cassatt was an American painter who was known for her ability to capture the interactions of young children and their siblings or parents in a way that few other artists could. She was part of the latter half of the Impressionist movement and was inspired and mentored by such figures as Edgar Degas and other prominent artists from the time period.
Cassatt was no stranger to including cats in her paintings. In fact, she produced a number of paintings that featured young kids holding their kittens.
One of the most well-known paintings from among these is known as Sara Holding a Cat. This work was done in 1908 and depicts a tender scene in which a young girl, wearing a pink dress, gently holds a kitten in her lap.
The viewer can see the young girl, Sara, and her rosy cheeks staring down at the kitten affectionately. Cassatt seemed to have a special affinity for portraying this kind of young, innocent love and affection that was so hard to find in adults.
6. Cat Eating a Bird – Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso was well-known for his edgy and sometimes boundary-pushing artwork that almost always drew the attention of everyone at an exhibition or studio.
He was one of the most pivotal figures from the modern era who played a role in the realm of Cubism, Surrealism, and other forms of modern art.
One of his most well-known paintings from the latter part of his career was titled Cat Eating a Bird.
This painting was done in 1939 and displayed many of the characteristic sharp angles and blended colors that his other paintings from this part of his career showed.
The painting was part of what was more or less a series of animal paintings that involved the depiction them in their natural state.
7. Gabrielle Arnault as a Child – Louis-Léopold Boilly
Another somewhat modern painting that features the classic scene of a young girl clutching an innocent kitten in her arms was done by Louis-Léopold Boilly.
A French painter, Boilly rose to prominence toward the end of the 18th century as he was recognized for his ability to produce incredible portraits.
One of these famous portraits is a work that is filled with innocence and youthful wonder. Titled Gabrielle Arnault as a Child, this painting was done at some point at the beginning of the 19th century.
Viewers often comment on the cute expression on the face of young Gabrielle Arnault.
8. Curiosity – Horatio Henry Couldery
Horatio Henry Couldery was highly-praised for his great attention to detail and incredibly-realistic depictions of the figures in his works.
Couldery grew in popularity toward the latter half of the 19th century and was recognized as an artist who focused mostly on animals. He was most well-known for his portrayal of cats in all their unique glory.
Couldery created a series of paintings that featured cats which featured various scenes of cats showing their usual investigative and inquisitive demeanor. One of the most well-known and widely-recognized paintings from this series is titled Curiosity.
This was perhaps a reference to the age-old saying that “curiosity killed the cat.” The paintings in this series clearly indicate that Couldery wanted to highlight the curious nature of young kittens.
The three cats in this particular work are seen crouched down, listening to the movements of a small mouse that’s enclosed in a cage nearby.
9. Cat with her Kittens – Julius Adam
German painter Julius Adam was known for his affection toward the cats he kept in his home and studio. He loved painting cats and had quite a knack for it, as is evidenced in many of his works that feature cats in various activities and settings.
Adam’s created dozens of paintings that featured cats engaged in various activities or just lounging around in one another’s company.
In 1913, he painted one of his most recognized works, which was titled Cat with her Kittens. This painting portrayed a few cats lying around on the ground outside next to their mother.
This painting is known for Adams’ ability to capture the lush colors of the green vegetation while also painting the white and reddish-colored cats in a way that makes them look like they naturally belong in that setting.
10. A Young Girl With Cat – Berthe Morisot
Another well-known painting that features a young girl holding a cat is actually titled A Young Girl With Cat. This work was painted by Berthe Morisot, a French Impressionist artist who drew widespread acclaim during her lifetime as one of the most talented women of the entire movement.
This painting was completed in 1892 and depicts a teenage girl reclined in a chair, looking toward the viewer as she holds a small, black cat in her lap.
This work contains the subtle colors that Morisot was known to display in her paintings along with the gentle brushstrokes and glowing light effects that were also quite common among Impressionist artists.